Northrop and McDonnell Douglas said Monday that they have formed a team to jointly pursue the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Tactical Fighter program.
The announcement follows the earlier formation of another team made up of Lockheed, General Dynamics and Boeing. Rockwell International and Grumman, the other two firms involved in the competition to develop the airplane, have not joined a team.
The seven defense contractors were due to submit their individual bids for the demonstration and validation phase of the ATF program on Monday. The ATF is expected to be the Air Force's principal air defense fighter in future decades.
The Air Force has been quietly advocating that the companies form teams on the ATF program. The service believes that the teams will pool their funding, thereby reducing the cost to the Pentagon. In addition, the teaming system spreads work throughout the industry in an era when there is not enough work to keep every firm in business.